Judge Ryan Keefer wears short shorts and a Larry Bird moustache as well, but the people at the hospital nevertheless still think that he's a little bit eccentric.
Celebrate the sweet sixteenth!
The Boston Celtics were still stung by the impact of watching the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate winning an NBA Championship in Boston Garden at the end of the 1985 season, and they played the 1985-86 season with that chip firmly entrenched on their shoulders. The competition in the Eastern Conference didn't stand a chance, as the Celtics finished with a 67-15 record, and Boston's Larry Bird averaged almost 26 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists a game, remarkable numbers for a 6-foot-9 forward. In fact, those numbers and Bird's play helped him to his third consecutive Most Valuable Player award from the league. Combine these totals with those of starting players Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, all of whom would average double figures in scoring, and the Celtics' juggernaut was unstoppable. The postseason for the Celtics seemed to be a mere formality, however I do want to mention that the postseason march was notable for Michael Jordan's proclamation of sorts in Game Two of the Conference Quarterfinals, scoring 63 points on Bird and the Celtics. While the Celtics would prevail in overtime, it was clearly a sign of things to come for the twenty-three year old. From there, Boston moved on to handily defeat Atlanta and Milwaukee, and they were seemingly destined to meet the Lakers one more time for all of the proverbial marbles.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Finals though; the Lakers were eliminated by the Houston Rockets in the Conference playoffs on a shot that still defies description to this day. You see kids, back when there wasn't a game clock that ran down tenths of a second, with one second left to play, the ball was inbounded to Rockets player Ralph Sampson, who caught the ball and redirected it in one fluid motion, almost behind his head, and the ball bounced along the rim and into the net. So the Rockets faced the Celtics, a bit of a surprise to be sure. With the 7- foot-4 Sampson and the 7 foot Akeem Olajuwon, the Rockets' aptly-nicknamed "Twin Towers" were a defensive force to be reckoned with. Combined with the veteran point guard presence of John Lucas and the shooting prowess of Rodney McCray, they seemed to be set to take on the Green Army.
While it seemed like an interesting matchup on paper, as the series wore on, Boston was clearly the better team. They took the first two games easily, winning 112-100 and 117-95 in Boston before moving the next three games to Houston. Houston was fairly delirious about their team's success and after winning Game Three by two points and losing Game Four by three, it seemed clear that they were on their way to making it a series. And about three minutes into Game Five, Sampson and Celtics' reserve guard Jerry Sichting got into a fight that bloodied Johnson, and the Rockets used the emotion from that fight to help propel them to a convincing 111-96 win. So with the series close for Houston, they had to only go back to Boston and win two straight games against a team who lost only one game total at home all year. With an amped-up Boston crowd razzing Sampson at every touch of the ball, the Rockets never had a chance, and Bird closed the door on the Rockets, propelling Boston to a 114-97 win and the Celtics' 16th NBA Championship.
With this year's crop of Boston Celtics perhaps sharing that same sense of destiny to the Finals once again, the NBA has decided to remind Celtics fans of what it felt like the last time the Celtics were so close to championship glory, and the games, in their original broadcast form, are certainly a welcome trip down memory lane. Each game is housed on its own disc, with a seventh disc as a retrospective for the season itself. Here's the thing though; I just got done watching another multi-disc sports set that seemed to eliminate any extracurricular activity, which was a slightly unforgivable error. On this 1985-86 set, perhaps the thing that people remember about this Finals, aside from the Celtics overpowering play, was the Sampson-Sichting fight. And it's conveniently edited out of the set. Why David Stern, why? We manage to get a clip of the fight during Brent Musberger's Game Six pregame appearance, but otherwise, nada. The disc magically transports us past the fight, and to commentator Dick Stockton's recap of it. It's not like the players were swinging at fans here, so I'm not entirely sure what the big fuss was to get rid of it. If you're going to relive the passion and glory, all of the highs and lows should be included. Which leads me to something else about this set which was annoying; Musberger's warm-up of sorts was only included for the last four games. I don't know or remember if there was such a thing for the first two games, but come on guys, let's show the cheesy CBS graphics and catchy song in all of these things, because Musberger's introduction is actually kind of cool for me, for whatever reason.
The season recap disc is decent as well, as a nice complement to the Finals series. It spends the first quarter of its hour on the season, and looks at the season-ending injuries of its stars like Bernard King and Jordan, who suffered a broken foot early in the season. What's funny about this (aside from the fact that "Broken Wings" is played underneath the athletes' rehab efforts), is watching Jordan take shots sitting on the bench before a game, collecting change from kids as presumptive wagers of his feats. Tell me THAT wasn't a sign of things to come. Past that little piece of foresight, the recap spends a lot of time on the Finals and is a worthy companion piece to the set itself. And for Celtics fans, if you can forgive the part where the fight got edited out of the set, then this is worth your time and money.
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